After five days behind bars, digital activist Maxence Melo was granted bail on Monday, December 19.
Melo was detained by police on Tuesday, December 13, by police wanting to gain access to the user data for his website, JamiiForums; his website is used by whistleblowers revealing corruption in Tanzania.
“[No user data] has been compromised,” says Melo, speaking at a press conference shortly after his successful bail hearing.
“We are facing a strong attack on the media. We need to protect our online freedom and our freedom of expression. And let’s protect whistleblowers whether online or offline,” says Melo.
On Friday, Melo was charged with three counts of obstruction under the cybercrime act and also faces a charge for failing to manage and use a .co.tz domain name.
“The suspect has been neglecting to abide by lawful orders of law enforcement agencies. The police force and any law enforcement agency under the law are entitled to get the information,” says Johannes Kalungura, the principal legal counsel for the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority.
Various media and human rights groups condemned Melo’s long detention; Tanzanian law requires charges be laid within 24 hours.